I fell in love with books the way people fall in love with each other. Each new title was like a new relationship. It started with excitement and hope, there was usually some heartbreak in between, but I was always a little wiser at the end.
"The Giving Tree" by Shel Silverstein was my first love. I still remember sobbing in my mother's bed as she finished reading me the story. I was captivated by the power the words had over me, the fact that they had made me feel so much. I didn't yet have words for it, but I wondered, what was this strange wizardry?
In 4th grade, "Where The Red Fern Grows" by Wilson Rawls would break my heart again, and harder. I fell in love with those two coonhounds as if they were my own and I was the little boy. I also made the mistake of finishing the last chapter on the bus ride home from school. I burst in through the front door and tried to explain to my mother through broken sobs that I was crying over a book.
My next love was "The Diary of a Young Girl" by Anne Frank. This one had the added power of being a true story from a genuine voice, and not only that, but one in the grips of unthinkable peril. It was a childhood so different from mine and a struggle I could never possibly understand, and yet, her words transported me in a way that would never have been possible without them.
By then my fate was sealed. I'd been broken down, built back up, and forever changed by so many books that I knew, at best, I wanted to be a part of their verbal alchemy, and at the very least to read them for a lifetime.
I don't know if I'll be able to pen something as moving as the few titles I have mentioned, or the countless others that exist, but I know I never will if I don't try.